I am the captain of FRC Team 6418: The Missfits, an all-female community team in SF. Because our team is not affiliated with a school, we are having some difficulties getting field trip forms for our members to attend competitions.
Many of the students cannot miss school without having an excused absence, but in order to get an excused absence, we either need to get permission forms or have parents lie and say the students were sick. I went onto my school district’s website, but the only way to get a field trip form requisition is to log in with an official SFUSD staff account, and said staff member MUST attend the field trip with the students. We do not have any public school teachers mentoring our team, so we are not quite sure how to get around this issue.
We figure that for regionals we may be able to get a teacher to come on Friday at the very least, but in the event me make it to Championships, we are not sure what to do.
Are there any other community teams out there that have gotten around this issue? Our school district is extremely strict when it comes to attendance, and have very strict rules around field trips.
You’re not looking for permission forms–you’re looking for legitimacy in the eyes of the school.
Sadly, you’re going to have to make choices. I ran a 4-H team for the last three years, and our parents had to pull the kids out of school (with whatever came along with it) to attend regionals. None of them got a field trip, and occasionally we had to leave a kid behind because there was some school event they couldn’t miss.
You may be stuck this year, but some things that may help:
Finding Friday-Sunday regionals, where they’re available.
Affiliate with a school, or perhaps a district-wide program (which sometimes opens up unusual routes to making things happen).
Take to the press, document everything, and then start selling the board on why they need this in the school.
Homeschooled students do have the flexibility, and may be able to cover for times when normal-schooled kids just can’t get out.
Does your school offer college visit days? Picking an event that’s on a college campus may buy them a way out.
(Side note: That is the best new team name I’ve heard in a long, long time.)
We are a community based team as well but all our members attend the same school. Under the school district policy, students are allowed 5 ‘unexcused’ absences per year (staying home sick without a doctors note, family engagements, etc) before the truancy officers get involved. A few members had already exhausted those days by the time competition came around and asked the administration to excuse the absences given that this is FIRST and a STEM based club. The administration looked at the program and allowed them to be excused absences. We had to collect the notes from all the parents and turn them in to the attendance secretary in one pile so she knew that they were all connected to the same event.
We’re planning on having a mentor go with students to speak with the principals at each of their schools. Fortunately, we do have a teacher who wants to attend a regional on the Friday of our Friday-Sunday regional and will organize a field trip for us, and our second regional is over spring break.
Some of our students last year were able to get one school to recognize Champs as an educational contest like a Math Team Competition. Getting administrators onboard and seeing FIRST as a positive benefit that you bring to their schools is huge. We’ve invited the district superintendent to the Founder’s Reception, invited the Director of Student Services to competitions, had seniors speak before the school board, etc. They are very, very busy people and even though we know what FIRST is and how it benefits students, they don’t necessarily know that.
It’s good to look ahead for Champs; sometimes getting approval can take a while.
Hopefully this is not too late to be of use. This is the letter that the Space Cookies (also a community team) use when girls need to let their schools know they will be missing class to attend an event. When sent electronically, the links are included in the text.
The FIRST Robotics Program is an exciting international program that teams working professionals and young people to solve an engineering design problem in an intense, collaborative, and competitive way. This program explores new opportunities for students, while also providing a life-changing and career-molding experience.
In 2018, the program will reach over 75,000 high-school-aged young people on over 3,000 teams worldwide. The robotics program demonstrates to students how technological fields hold many opportunities and that the core concepts of science, math, and engineering are the building blocks to solving exciting and interesting challenges.
The robotics competitions are the result of brainstorming, hands on design and fabrication, teamwork, dedicated mentoring, and development and adherence to project timelines, to build a robot from scratch in six intensive weeks. Learn more about the program at http://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc
NASA Ames Research Center and the Girl Scouts of Northern California have partnered to sponsor an all-girls robotics team. One of your students is a valued member of this team, along with girls from 30 other high schools. Involvement with Team 1868, the Space Cookies, is fostering development in science, engineering, physics, electronics, design, and computer skills, as well as team building, communication, writing, and leadership skills.
The Space Cookies will be competing at the X Regional, Start Date through End Date in Event Location. Please excuse _____________________________ from class on these dates, so that she may take part in this educational opportunity.